Tinubu and the generation of Astyanax bimaculatus
By Idowu Ajanaku
“Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.”
― Mineko Iwasaki
The grand conspiracy and recent desperate attempts to de-construct and indeed, de-mystify one of Africa’s most decorated political colossuses, who, incidentally remains an enduring metaphor for what true democratic culture represents in Nigeria smirks of gross ingratitude. The pain runs deep, considering the incontestable fact that the masterminds are some of the greatest beneficiaries of his patriotic struggles, at one time or the other over the past five decades.
One is talking about none other than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the famed Jagaban, the one man who stood firm, like Zuma rock in the whirlwind of Nigeria’s politics, against the brutal and bruising boots of late Abacha’s dictatorship. Our subject was the guiding light of the struggle for the realization of June 12,1993 mandate as won by late Chief MKO Abiola. He was the former executive governor of Lagos State(1999-2007) and has remained the constant star in the firmament of Nigeria’s progressive political spectrum.
But for the commitment of this national Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), perhaps Nigeria’s then rudderless ship of state would long have capsized into the vast ocean of corruption under the clueless, Jonathan-led administration. That was then. But this is now, as he is being paid back in coins he never traded for the survival of democratic culture in his dear country, Nigeria.
So, it rankles; it shocks one to the marrow, more so because acts of sheer deception and bitter betrayal as reflected in some of William Shakespeare’s plays of the 16th century now play out in the 21st Century Nigeria, with uncanny semblances! And for what? All because of transient fame and fortunes. For instance, in the play Macbeth the lead character betrays King Duncan (to whom he has sworn allegiance) by killing him when he is a guest at his home. But why, one may ask? It is in an overtly ambitious attempt to gain the crown that Duncan wears. He also betrays his friend, Banquo, just to retain the power and position of being King. Thereafter, he murdered sleep!
But that is man for you; vacillating like the tropic weather. Today, he pretends to be the most loving and loyal friend or ally, only because he is in dire need of the other’s help, most likely to get out of a sticky situation. But tomorrow he turns coat at the drop of a hat, that is when the price is right. There are scruples but he has none. No binding philosophy of commitment to a cause. Greed for instant gains and an unquenchable desire to be seen as the man- of -the -moment are his propelling passion; his odious guiding credo.
Worse still, Tinubu’s traducers are going about it as if he is one desperate politician, who wants power at all costs and by all crooked means. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. If memory serves, Tinubu’s political trajectory took off when he pitched tent with the Musa Yar’Adua’s political dynasty. That was the Social Democratic Party(SDP).Before long, he was championing the struggle for the actualization of the June 12, 1993 mandate, as freely given by the good people of Nigeria to Chief MKO Abiola(of blessed memory). He made a lot of sacrifices; of precious time, energy, finance, strategies, wise counsel and other incalculable resources in this noble cause.
And still sticking to his political guns, to forever remain on the side of the people through a democratic structure he, it was who warned Dapo Sarumi, who was then the patriarch of the Primrose Group not to jump ship into the IBB contraption of an Interim National Government. Back then, the group was the most dominant in Lagos politics in 1992-93. Tinubu vowed to break rank with Sarumi should he not heed his piece of patriotic advice. But the other was far too gone in his quest for political relevance under the military government to heed it. That singular wrong choice led to Sarumi’ political oblivion, till this day.
If Tinubu was desperate he would have joined the bandwagon as one of the infamous carpet baggers. It would also be recalled that when he, Tinubu was the Chairman, House Committee on Finance at the Senate he was offered the juicy post as the Minister of Finance by the Abacha-led military government but he rejected it out rightly out of sheer national interest. Yet, that was not all.
Specifically in 2003, when as the Lagos state governor he became the last man standing at a time OBJ’s rigging machinery raged through the South West geo-political zone Tinubu’s commitment, dedication, determination and personal sacrifice re-engineered the progressive community to retrieve the zone from the conservative People’s Democratic Party, PDP. The eventual emergence of Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola as the governors of Ekiti and Osun states respectively became the turning point for the progressives’ relevance.
Another remarkable and in fact, epochal moment in the South West politics came in 2007.When the market din swirled in Lagos over the emergence of Babatunde Raji Fashola -then a political neophyte-as the governorship candidate of the AC it was Tinubu who made another sacrifice of his Senatorial ambition, giving the ticket to Ganiyu Solomon.
It was Fashola’s victory at the polls in 2011 that empowered, emboldened and paved the way for the subsequent victories of the progressives in Oyo and Ogun states in 2011.And it was also in the spirit of Asiwaju’s sacrifice that made it possible for Ibikunle Amosun, well-known then as a diehard conservative politician to clinch the coveted governorship seat in Ogun State, in spite of the array of other progressive politicians on ground.
Ditto for Abiola Ajimobi in Oyo sate who had earlier abandoned Alliance for Democracy, AD for ANPP. Ordinarily, if Asiwaju was one desperate politician, as being insinuated such politicians would not have ridden to political prominence on the back of the Jagaban. Worthy of note too, is that it was the sacrifice made by Tinubu out of love for his country that led to the historic merger amongst the ACN,CPC,ANPP and a faction of APGA to form APC. And for the first time in the political evolution in Nigeria the party was able to dislodge the incumbent greed-driven PDP-led administration.
Were he one selfish politician he would have been contented being a king in his South West enclave. But no. Even when the then presidential flag-bearer, Muhammadu Buhari offered him the post of his running mate in the presence of Chief Bisi Akande, who was the Interim Chairman of the party Tinubu declined the offer. He nominated Professor Yemi Osibanjo instead. This is an incontrovertible fact. It was borne out of his patriotic zeal, taking cognizance that the PDP had then polarized Nigeria along ethnic and religious lines. Unfortunately, one John Baden, a total stranger to Nigeria’s political evolution has stood logic on its head by claiming otherwise in his recently launched biography of Mister President.
Having achieved such political feats, out of a rare sense of patriotism it is a crying shame that some lucky individuals who rode on his back to fame are now hands-in-glove with the Hausa/Fulani hegemony to attempt to rubbish his good image which he has built over the decades. What is their aim? To gain entrance into the hearts of the new generation of Yorubas.
But they must learn from the unfailing hands of history that the Akintolas, Omoboriowos and Babatopes who had travelled such ignoble paths have been consigned into the dustbins of political history. No Yoruba man who has jettisoned the collective interest of their people ever survived their ill-fated journeys. More instructively, they may have to read the accounts of Shakespeare characters in Julius Caesar. For instance, the wily one named Antony betrays his commitment to Cleopatra by marrying Octavia. Conversely, Mena betrays Antony, Lepidus, and Caesar by suggesting that Pompey should kill the trio. On the other hand, Ahenobarbus betrays Antony by deserting Antony when the latter is at his most vulnerable point in life. As if to literally turn tables, Cleopatra herself endures betrayal from both Caesar as well as her own treasurer. This deception, coming from among one’s closest servants, constitutes great betrayal. Instructively, they all ended on the sad side of history.
It would therefore, do the Yoruba political traitors in Abuja, who, like the Astyanax fish species betray their own , are now hell-bent on doing Tinubu in to have some moment of sober reflection. Even Ayodele Fayose, Ekiti State governor in his characteristic blunt manner has warned of the dire consequences for those so involved. They should remember that in the market square of life, it is always honourable and rewarding to be grateful to those who lift us up, instead of turning round to spit on their faces. God, who created us all is watching. As the only one to who vengeance belongs He will surely take recompense. For, anybody who abuses grace will soon have nothing to eat but grass.